MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - A chemistry experiment went terribly wrong and caused an explosion at Southwest Tennessee Community College in Memphis.
It sent four people to the hospital. The explosion happened around noon on Wednesday, November 9, 2011, in the 700 block of Union Avenue. Those injured suffered cuts from broken glass and inhaled fumes from the explosion. All were taken to The MED in stable condition.
"I work downstairs and they said there was an explosion at the science department," frantic college employee Kristina King tells abc24.com.
"My teacher cancelled my biology class, and that's when we found out about the explosion," says student Larressa Faulkner.
Hundreds of students and faculty were confused and shocked about the news. Classes were cancelled and buildings were evacuated
"It was scary because we were in the same building. It could've been worse,” says King.
Three students and a professor had to be carted away by medics after the explosion, which occured in an organic chemistry class.
"The professor sustained most of the explosion. He was transported to The MED Burn Center in non-critical condition,” says Memphis Fire Department Lieutenant Wayne Cooke.
Witnesses say the professor tried to stop the explosion.
"He tried to shield anyone else from getting hurt,” says college vice president Karen Nippert.
School administrators are now trying to get to the bottom of what happened.
“There are measures in place to prevent things of this nature. I truly believe this was just an accident,” says Nippert.
Investigators are trying to determine exactly which chemicals touched off the explosion. Other students were treated for respiratory issues. No firefighters were hurt.